A photo of a student protest with people carrying placards reading "free education now, tax the rich"

The National Union of Students (NUS) has launched a student manifesto for the next general election. The union says that the manifesto highlights the difficulties students and apprentices currently face, including around the cost of living crisis, the accessibility of education, housing and mental health.

The manifesto was developed in consultation with more than 10,000 students across the UK on their priorities for the education system and for wider society.

According to NUS, 96% of students are cutting back due to the cost of living crisis, with 65% cutting back on food. The union also says that 99% of the average maintenance loan is swallowed up by rent, leaving students with just 50p per week for all other essentials. And according to NUS’ research, 40% of students have considered dropping out due to the cost of rent and bills.

There are currently more than four million students and apprentices in the UK, collectively making up around 10% of the voting population.

Among the points in NUS’ manifesto are calls for the abolition of tuition fees to create a free education system that is well funded, measures to lift students out of poverty and improving the conditions for international students to live and study in the UK.

Commenting on the launch of the manifesto, NUS UK Vice President Higher Education, Chloe Field, said: “The Manifesto for our Future represents a fundamental shift in students’ relationship with government. Politicians cannot say they didn’t know how their actions affect us, because we are talking with one voice.

“This manifesto was built by over 10,000 students and apprentices from over 500 universities, colleges and training providers in every corner of the UK.

“Students have become the crisis generation. We need real action from politicians to break the cycle of crises, including the reintroduction of grants and abolishing tuition fees, sustainable investment in education, affordable housing for all, a better funded NHS, and an education system that welcomes international students.

“Students hold the keys to the next General Election; at the last election there were 60 constituencies where the number of students was bigger than the vote margin that decided the outcome. It’s vital that parties and candidates listen to us.”